Akira Sato. Sin título. Serie Ojo ciclópeo, hacia 1960. Colección José Luis Soler Vila, Valencia


Five years ago, the then-open Bombas Gens centre successfully presented the exhibition “The Look at Things. Japanese Photography around Provoke” in Valencia, which later travelled to the Círculo de Bellas Artes in Madrid and in which, based on the funds of the Per Amor a l’Art Collection, the evolution of this discipline in the Japanese context between the fifties and seventies was reviewed, mainly around the VIVO agency and the magazine Provoke. Both initiatives were short-lived (the first, inspired by the Magnum Photos model, was active between 1959 and 1961, and the second between 1968 and 1970), but they acted as catalysts for a profound renewal of the codes of photography by authors such as Ikkō Narahara, Shōmei Tōmatsu, Eikoh Hosoe, Akira Satō and Kikuji Kawada, who were part of VIVO, and Yutaka Takanashi, Takuma Nakahira and Daidō Moriyama, who published in one of the only three issues of Provoke.

These decades, immediately after World War II, were a time of evident economic and cultural changes in Japan that would be reflected in social conflicts and, of course, in an alternative language in the use of the camera, the most reliable tool when it came to capturing the first portraits of this new society, which would be critical, subjective and as far removed as possible from the previous conventions of this medium.

The José Luis Soler Vila collections also feed the exhibition entitled “Provocative material for thinking. Contemporary Japanese photography” that we can see at the Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga from July 12. Among the authors gathered, none of those who formed part of VIVO are missing, which means “Provocative material for thinking. Contemporary Japanese photography”. life in Esperanto (Eikoh Hosoe, Shōmei Tōmatsu, Kikuji Kawada, Akira Satō, Ikkō Narahara and Akira Tanno), who were keen to emphasise the openly subjective possibilities of photography as opposed to the documentary, direct and objective nature that was dominant at the time; they did not conceive of reality as concrete moments and places, but rather as the embodiment, perhaps abstract and open to experimentation, of the artist’s particular concerns, the reflection of an individual gaze.

There will also be some of the figures that he made discover in Malaga Provoke: Takuma Nakahira, founder of the magazine with Kōji Taki; Yutaka Takanashi and Daidō Moriyama; the latter joined from the second issue. The very defined style of the images that appeared on its pages was called are-bure-boke (grain, sweep, blur), and clearly referred to the vocation of aesthetic novelty of these photographers, equally interested in exploring the relationships between this art, language and political resistance. These authors did not identify photography with its visual fruit, but with the very act of taking it, in which they considered that not only the gaze was involved, but the body in its entirety, and also, evidently, thought. In their works, they tried to make the world be perceived as a set of evidence that affects us all, even when it cannot be understood through reason and seems elusive.

In his work we will find diverse views (scenes with unexpected, blurred, out-of-focus framing and textures) of the survival of traditions in Japan, of the new urban life in its cities, of the protests against the American footprint, or previously unseen approaches to the body or sex; they are part of some of the most important series of the artists invited and in Malaga they will not be exhibited chronologically, but according to their affinities in terms of motifs or conceptual background, an approach, without a doubt, closer to the one he cultivated. Provoke.

Akira Sato. Untitled. Cyclopean Eye Series, ca. 1960. José Luis Soler Vila Collection, Valencia

“Provocative material for thought. Contemporary Japanese photography. José Luis Soler Vila Collection”


C/Company, 10


From July 12 to October 13, 2024

Similar Posts